The Republican game plan for selecting the next member of the Supreme Court was ready to go even before longtime Justice Anthony Kennedy made his retirement announcement this week.
Leonard Leo, a Trump adviser on judicial nominations, said liberal groups bring out the abortion issue every time a Republican president gets to make a Supreme Court nomination, including when Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy in 1987. A total of 26 percent of Trump voters told pollsters that Supreme Court nominees were the most important factor in their voting, compared with only 18 percent of Clinton voters who felt that way.
Asked by Fox's Maria Bartiromo whether he would ask potential nominees how they might come down on Roe v. Wade, Trump said: "Well, that's a big one".
During the candidate vetting the last time, the White House asked all the contenders whom they would pick instead of themselves - and they all said Gorsuch, said the person, who was not authorized to disclose private conversations.
Trump got his first Supreme Court pick after McConnell led a Republican blockade against Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama's nominee to fill Scalia's seat.
By picking a social conservative to replace Kennedy, Trump would have a reliable 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court, even on some of those hot-button social issues.
Still, it is clear from statements, news conferences, interviews and in speeches on the Senate floor, McConnell consistently and specifically said that "the presidential election process" - and not "a lame-duck president" - should decide the next Supreme Court justice.
He was among several senators who met Thursday with Trump at the White House. "We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy's successor this fall". Republicans have a narrow, 51-seat majority, and all eyes will be on a handful of Republicans who have been supportive of abortion rights, and on red-state Democrats facing re-election in November.
He said Democratic senators running for reelection in conservative states, like West Virginia and in, face a "lose-lose" scenario: risk angering their base voters by supporting Trump's pick, or vote no and harm their chances among the Republicans and moderates they still need to win. He said that he would be interviewing possible nominees over the weekend. She points to what's known as a "heartbeat bill" in Iowa, where state lawmakers recently approved one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.
In Arkansas, a legal battle is now playing out over a law that imposes limitations on access to medication-induced abortions.
Maslin said the court opening might even end up helping the Democratic incumbents if voters become anxious that a tilt to the right will endanger abortion rights, gay rights and access to health care. Other states, including MS and Louisiana, have banned abortion at 15 weeks' gestation, and others have prohibited specific methods.
Kavanaugh is a Roman Catholic who opposes abortion rights.
"You see this over and over again and it's the usual rank speculation", Leo said.
Is Roe v. Wade really in peril? A final decision, he said, will be announced July 9. Planned Parenthood has said that the law is both medically unnecessary and would effectively ban medication abortion in the state. "I'm looking for someone who doesn't wear their own politics on their sleeve, being a jurist". "It doesn't just close the enthusiasm gap, it injects rocket fuel into the evangelical base that helped Trump win swing states".